Drives On: Right
Phone Code: +33
National Day: July 14
Internet Domain: .fr
Electrical Outlets: Type C, F
French World Heritage Sties: 43
France, officially referred to as the French Republic, is a sovereign state located in Western Europe. The country covers up to 640,679 square kilometers and a population of over 66 million. Paris, the capital and largest city in France, is also one of the most popular cities and tourist attractions in France.
The citizens of France enjoy a high standard of living. It is among the highest ranking in the world when it comes to education, economy, health care, civil liberties and overall quality of life. France is among the five founding members of the United Nations, as well.
If you are planning to travel to France, there are several tourist attractions to check out. However, here are some of the most notable ones: Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Musee dÓrsay, Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versailles, and the French Riviera.
History of France
France is located in Western Europe and is the third largest nation in Europe next to Russia and Ukraine. During ancient times, France belonged to a Celtic territory that was then known as Gaul or Gallia. The current name of France was derived from the Latin word, Francia, which literally means “country of the Franks”. It wasn’t until the 9th century when France became a separate country.
By the 17th century, France had become on of the major countries in Europe. It suffered numerous crisis in the 20th century that includes two world wars, social protests, and political upheavals. Nonetheless, the country emerged after the Second World War, despite the devastation that it suffered. It is now a major partner in the European community and known for its industrial and agricultural products.
In addition, France has six overseas territories namely French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
France Travel Basics
WiFi Availability: Getting WiFi for free in France is quite easy as there are several cafes and establishments that offer them. Meanwhile, there are also some municipalities including Paris, the capital city, wherein you can enjoy free WiFi access. You can also find free WiFi in most public parks and town halls.
Airports: Charles de Gaulle International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in France.
Visa Required: If you are traveling from one of 26 states that are part of the Schengen agreement, then you can use your Schengen Visa to travel to and stay in France for up to 90 days. But for tourists traveling to France from other countries, you still need a visa.
International Driver’s License Accepted? Driving with a foreign license is allowed in France. However, if the driver’s license isn’t issued by any of the European Economic Area, then you need to make sure it is valid and is accompanied by a French translation.
Crime: Violent crimes are rare in the city center of France, especially in the capital city of Paris. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing are the most significant crime issue among locals and tourists alike.
Trivia: DID YOU KNOW that the Louvre Museum is the most visited museum in the world? This is not unlikely though as the World Tourism Organization has dubbed France as the most popular tourist destination in the world according to the average tourist count.
Top Attractions in France
Before you travel to France, you can list down these recommended attractions you should visit:
- Eiffel Tower: This is probably one of the most iconic landmarks not just in France, but all over the world. The landmark is a 324-meter high tower that was built in the 19th century. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel (to whom it was named after) and is made of wrought iron. It is a work of extreme engineering for its time. The tower can be climbed up with steps and has an observation deck.
- The Louvre: Also known as the Louvre Museum, this is another iconic landmark in France. This is one of the top 3 most visited museums in the world. The site of the Louvre is a former historic palace that now houses a huge art collection including the world-famous “Mona Lisa” from Leonardo Da Vinci.
- Notre Dame Paris: This iconic Gothic Church is one of the must-see attractions when you travel to France. This 13th-century cathedral is towering and imposing with its gargoyles and flying buttresses. This cathedral was also used for the setting of Hugo’s famous novel.
- Arc de Triomphe: This triumphal arc is more than just a landmark – it is a national monument of France. The arch was built to commemorate the victories of Napoleon. There is also an observation deck at the monument.
- Versailles Palace: The Versailles Palace in Versailles, France is one of the most elaborate and exquisite palaces in the world. This immense palace was built in the 18th century and features a Hall of Mirrors, gilded apartments, and elaborate gardens.
- Champs-Elysees: This is one of the most famous avenues in the world and is located at the 8th arrondissement of Paris. This avenue is roughly 1.9 kilometers in length and 70 meters in width.
- Mont Saint-Michael: This island commune is located in Normandy, France. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of abbeys, monasteries, castles, and churches.
- Pantheon: This 18th-century mausoleum is located in Paris, France and is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. It was originally built as a church to honor St. Genevieve. Eventually, it was housed to house the reliquary chasse with her relics. It is also where the remains of notable French citizens are housed in.
Books About France
France Podcasts and YouTube Channels
- The Join Us in France Travel Podcast
- Indie Travel Podcast | France Travel
- Travel Channel France | Youtube
- What’s Up France | Youtube
Cuisine of France
French cuisine is one of the globally popular cuisines. It is also one of those relegated to its elaborate techniques that only the most discerning palates could appreciate. Hence, tasting authentic French cuisine should be part of the itinerary when you travel to France. In particular, you need to seek out the best restaurants that are known to offer the most classic French recipes that showcase the finesse and flavor that has made the cuisine popular in the first place.
French Soup or Soupe à l’oignon: This is a traditional part of any French meal: French soup. It is typically made of onions and beef stock and comes with melted cheese on top or paired with croutons. Despite being known today as gourmet food, it was actually a poor man’s dish when it was first introduced into the French cuisine. The caramelization of the onions provides a certain richness to the soup that is sought after by those who love it.
Beef bourguignon: Another French classic recipe is Beef bourguignon. It is traditionally part of any French meal. This is essentially a beef stew that is braised in red wine, cooked in beef broth, and then mixed with garlic, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and pearl onions.
Chocolate souffle: For dessert lovers, the Chocolate souffle is something that you cannot afford to miss when you travel to France. It is an airy, baked egg dish that originated in 18th century France. Souffle recipes can be eaten sweet or savory. But for dessert lovers, Chocolate souffle is a must!
Nicoise salad: This is another modern favorite that also rooted in French cuisine. Nicoise salad was innovated in the Provence region of France. It is a filling salad that consists of the following ingredients: boiled eggs, canned tuna, olives, anchovies, fresh tomatoes, and lettuce.
Ratatouille: This particular dish originates from the southeastern region of Provence, France. It is a stewed vegetable dish that can be served with other dishes (such as an omelet or crepe) or as a side dish. This dish is often cooked in a pan first before baked in the oven.
Tarte Tatin: This is another popular French dessert that is a must try when you are in France. This dish was invented by Stephanie Tartin when she made this French version of a traditional apple pie. Since them, this is one of the most popular desserts in the world, not just in France.
To sample these delicious French recipes, you can check out these top-rated French restaurants on your travel to France:
- Pierre Gagnaire (Paris)
- Le Cinq (Paris – reservations required)
- Sacred Flower (Paris)
- Astrance (Paris – Michelin star restaurant)
- Boutary (Paris)
Online France Resources